***A total of 20 cars are set for this weekend’s California 8 Hours, the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, in a field dominated by factory or works-supported GT3 machinery.
***While down on overall entries from October’s 32-car grid, the GT3 class features the same number of cars (16) as last year’s race, and with entirely all-pro driver lineups.
***A number of teams are making their debuts at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, including Walkenhorst Motorsport (BMW), KCMG (Nissan), HubAuto Corsa (Ferrari) and Honda Team Motul, while BMW Team Schnitzer returns to the famed circuit for the first time since 2001 when it claimed GT2 class victory in the American Le Mans Series.
***Black Swan Racing, which withdrew from last month’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour following Tim Pappas’ heavy crash in practice, is expected to return for the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July. Sportscar365 understands the team was initially in contention to run one of Porsche’s all-factory lineups this weekend, before ultimately going to Park Place Motorsports.
***Pappas, who sustained multiple fractures and injuries from the Bathurst accident, is understood to be on the road to recovery, although an exact timeframe for his racing return is unclear.
***A delay in the arrival of Porsche’s factory designated engine and gearbox for the No. 911 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R will result in an overnight powertrain change, according to Mike Johnson, the team’s director of operations.
***Johnson told Sportscar365 that the team turned around its chassis, which took part in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, in less than five days before departing for WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in its first race as a factory-supported operation.
***The No. 912 Wright Motorsports Porsche, which features the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour winning trio of Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner, meanwhile, is the team’s No. 58 car from Blancpain GT World Challenge America competition.
***Honda Performance Development is providing assistance to the JAS Motorsport-run Acura NSX GT3 Evo this weekend, in the car’s first official IGTC outing. “JAS is the meat of it and HPD is supporting it,” NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger told Sportscar365. “But obviously as we’re 4.5 hours away, we’re trying to do everything we can for this event, our home race.”
***Niffenegger said a HPD engine engineer will be embedded with the team for the remainder of the season. While being under the Honda Team Motul banner, the car is run as an Acura this weekend but will revert to the Honda badge for the remaining rounds at Spa, Suzuka and Kyalami.
***Both Bertrand Baguette and Mario Farnbacher appear set to complete the balance of the season in the car, with the exception of Suzuka for Farnbacher, who will be on IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship duty with Meyer Shank Racing at Virginia International Raceway that weekend.
***JAS is borrowing equipment from Dream Racing this weekend, including its transporter and garage setup, via a connection through Dream Racing founder Adriano de Micheli, who previously drove for the famed Italian squad in WTCC.
***A handful of teams, including Montaplast by Land Motorsport, KCMG and Walkenhorst, are fresh off last weekend’s VLN season-opener, which was won by a ROWE Racing-run BMW M6 GT3.
***Both Team WRT and Land Motorsport, which are making their first IGTC starts of the year, are expected to complete the remainder of the season. Sportscar365 understands that both teams, however, may not be factory-backed at each race, with local teams likely to again represent the German manufacturer in Suzuka.
***In addition to the two paid test sessions for California 8 Hours competitors, Pirelli GT4 America West teams also took to the track today for testing as well. Qualifying for the SRO Motorsports America-run regional series is on tap for Thursday, with the pair of 60-minute, SprintX-style races set for Friday.